Book Review: Befriend (Scott Sauls)

11 Jan

Scott Sauls is the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville. He seems to be a pastor in touch with today’s world but still grounded in a commitment to Scripture. He would fall for me somewhere between Andy Stanley and Tim Keller, more committed to core evangelical values than Stanley but a little more progressive than Keller. This sense also comes through in the endorsements at the front of the book and in the foreword by Ann Voskamp. Sauls comes from a centrist evangelical position, with Matt Chandler on his right and Richard Stearns on his left (both endorsed the book). Sauls’ centrist position serves him well in this book. I came to his book Befriend having never read any of his other work and having only heard him speak on a couple of occasions. I appreciate the heart that comes through in this book. Befriend is a collection of twenty one brief chapters, the bulk of which are directed at encouraging readers to befriend various kinds of people. We all know we are to befriend all sorts of people but Sauls, having laid a gospel basis for friendship in chapter one, is very effective at applying the need for friendship toward all for his evangelical audience. Sauls covers all sorts of groups, including often contrasting pairs (poor and rich, unborn babies and their mothers, conservatives and liberals). The book has an edge because most readers will come to a chapter that makes them uncomfortable, challenging their prejudices and lack of love. Because he is covering such a wide range of topics, the chapters are a bit uneven in terms of content, with some of them just pretty conventional in a way that will just be review for most believers. The best chapters are the ones covering issues Sauls has wrestled with deeply in his own life. Throughout the book, Sauls probes for the sweet spot of fidelity to the Bible combined with an open and loving heart. He most often succeeds in bringing this sense of grace and truth across in his writing. The book is well-suited for a small group, as it contains further Scripture readings and questions at the close of each chapter, but it may run just a bit long to be ideal for a small group. It may be best used by two or three friends who read it and discuss over coffee or a meal. Individuals of course, can also profit from a careful reading of the book.

The last chapter, on the God who befriends you, is the best chapter in the book in my opinion and is a fitting conclusion to a well-written and insightful book. For a people thoroughly connected but lacking community, Befriend gives us solid guidance.

2 Responses to “Book Review: Befriend (Scott Sauls)”

  1. creatorworship January 14, 2017 at 7:31 pm #

    If you are a bit radical in befriending the thoroughly lost some will look askance at your intentions and prudence. Being not of this world is not vaguely equal to not being involved with people in this world.

  2. jsf08 January 16, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    Good comment. Sauls addresses this well in the book. He leads the reader gently but firmly out of a “Christian bubble” mindset to engaging all kinds of people.

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